Innovation Kills

solar panels
Illustration/MIT Technology Review

Six-and-a-half cents…the cost per kilowatt hour to be competitive with natural gas power plants. Semprius has solar technology at 5 cents/kwh. Way competitive, right? Wrong.

Manufacturing innovation in China continually extends the life of cheap inefficient 15 cents/kwh solar panels killing dozens of companies with superior tech by wreaking havoc with simple cents/kwh analysis. It turns out the key innovation isn’t your invention but rather the inventive ways you can come up with to manufacture it. The question for startups is….

How can they stop innovation from killing them?


Mobil Voice Quality Still Stinks!

Spectrum illustration

Yup, it’s true. It still does. For how to fix this unpardonable sin read this not horribly technical explanation from IEEE Spectrum (one of the best tech publications around).


Imagine . . .

Sourcing labor from the cloud on demand.

A machine that can understand you…

Diagnose your car problem…

Plan your business trip…

Imagine Amelia.

The next generation won’t remember a time without Amelia…

Imagine that.

The Quantum Effect

Entanglement…rogue waves…and trying to keep my head below water in Bonaire – Photo/MSN

A butterfly in the Amazon Rainforest creates a hurricane in the Atlantic Ocean, a snorkeler in the Caribbean Sea creates a rogue wave off the Canary Islands, and a photon in one crystal transmits information to a photon in another crystal…25 kilometers away…instantaneously. It’s difficult to say which of these claims is more outrageous but the last one has, at least, been proven in a lab.

crystals University of Geneva
Photo/University of Geneva

A research team in the Physics Lab at the University of Geneva published their startling achievement in the September 21, issue of Nature Photonics. But it all really started when Charles Bennett of IBM Research first proposed the theory of “quantum teleportation” in 1993, setting off a race to achieve it. CalTech managed a 3 meter result in 1998 and now we’re up to 25 kilometers. Set the controls for the heart of the Sun. Today, every major university in the world is working on quantum networks. Our kids experiment with quantum effects like we did with nor-epinephrine on dissected frogs. It’s only a matter of time ’til entanglement becomes a feature of everyday life. The implications are strange, e.g., what’s the point of encryption when it can be cracked instantaneously? What’s the point of questions when answers are already known? When information can be discovered, transmitted, and distributed instantaneously, things like security, questions, and answers may actually be moot. Many of us have grown up and grown old all the while experiencing the ever-increasing pace of life. The quantum effect of instantaneous-ness is a whole different ballgame and will give new meaning to the phrase “where did all the time go?”

The Zombie Record Store

zombie rockers j

Last week 500 million people woke up to hear the iPod classic had been killed and then found a U2 album in their iTunes, generating much suspicion: Who put it there? What’s the catch? Millions had never heard of this aging rock group that hadn’t released an album in more than 5 years (an eternity in Web years). A lame marketing strategy?

The free album was so out-of-character for Apple it’s like Tiffany’s snuck into our bedrooms and dropped a diamond necklace on the dresser while we slept. Yet in the first 24 hours there were nearly 40 million orders for the new iPhone (over 30 million in China alone) and guess what? iPhone 6 is your new wallet and iTunes follows you everywhere, insatiable. Even on the Mac. Delete it, and it pops right back up again. Whiskey…Tango…Foxtrot.

iTunes is The Zombie Record Store that keeps coming at you every time the internet kills it. And it’s survived on every Apple product since the original iPod. It really makes you wonder…is the shocking success of Apple’s most recent product launch due to the mad-genius of cluelessness or the staying power of zombies?